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Okon named Central Coast Mariners coach

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Aug 2016

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Paul Okon has been appointed coach of the Central Coast Mariners, the A-League outfit announced on Monday.

Okon, 44, joins the club on a two-year deal following the sacking of Tony Walmsley. 

Walmsley was let go after the Mariners crashed out of the FFA Cup round of 32, beaten by state-league side Green Gully earlier in August. 

Okon said he was excited to begin his first professional senior coaching gig as the Mariners look to bounce back following a disappointing 2015-16 campaign.

“We want to give our supporters, the people who have been loyal to this club a reason to keep coming back to Central Coast Stadium and we want to give new people a reason to come and watch this team play football,” Okon said. 

“After a disappointing season we want to grow our supporter base and the only way we can do that is by playing a brand of football that’s going to excite people and get people talking about our club again.

“I feel very excited and can’t wait to get started. Hopefully I can bring something to the club and get the Central Coast Mariners back to where we all want them to be and that’s winning football games.”

Okon – a former Lazio, Middlesbrough and Leeds United player – retired in 2007 and took to coaching the following year.

The 28-time Australia international began as an interim coach at New South Wales state-league outfit APIA Leichhardt, and was then assistant to Miron Bleiberg at now-defunct A-League side Gold Coast United.

He has since been at the forefront of youth development as the Australia Under-20s coach, seeing 11 of his players go on to make senior Socceroos debuts.

Okon will run his first training session as Mariners coach on Tuesday, with the A-League season to kick off on October 7.

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